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283 – "Kerblam!"
Doctor Who episode
Directed byJennifer Perrott
Written byPete McTighe
Script editorFiona McAllister
Produced byNikki Wilson
Executive producer(s)
Music bySegun Akinola
SeriesSeries 11
Running time49 minutes
First broadcast18 November 2018 (2018-11-18)
← Preceded by
"Demons of the Punjab"
Followed by →
"The Witchfinders"
List of Doctor Who episodes (2005–present)

"Kerblam!" is the seventh episode of the eleventh series of the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who. It was written by Pete McTighe, directed by Jennifer Perrott, and was first broadcast on BBC One on 18 November 2018.

In the episode, the Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) travels to the delivery company Kerblam, alongside her companions Graham O'Brien (Bradley Walsh), Ryan Sinclair (Tosin Cole), and Yasmin Khan (Mandip Gill), to investigate why a package sent to her contained a message asking for help. They soon discover the company has missing human employees and that the automated workforce is behaving oddly. The episode guest stars Julie Hesmondhalgh, Lee Mack, Callum Dixon, Claudia Jessie, Leo Flanagan, and Matthew Gravelle.

The episode was watched by 7.46 million viewers.


The Thirteenth Doctor and her companions travel to Kerblam!, a galaxy-wide online shopping service consisting of automated warehouses, and a mostly robotic workforce known as "TeamMates". Under the guise of being new employees, the group attempt to find out who sent them a delivery with a call for help. They quickly learn from their new colleagues – Dan Cooper, the company's poster boy; Kira Arlo, a member of the dispatch team; and Charlie Duffy, a maintenance worker who loves Kira – that staff have been vanishing in recent months, and that the company has a strong culture of productivity. When Dan disappears while finding an order, the Doctor suspects something is wrong with the company's artificial intelligence and automated workforce.

Both human resource managers Judy Maddox and Jarva Slade quickly deny involvement when confronted about the disappearances. When Kira is abducted, the Doctor tracks her to the completely automated packaging and delivery floor, leading the group to gain access below. After finding the remains of the missing workforce and an army of TeamMates holding packages, the Doctor uses an early model of TeamMate to speak with Kerblam's AI. She quickly learns it called for her help directly, after suspecting something was wrong with its workforce. When Yasmin, Ryan and Charlie reveal they had witnessed Kira die when playing with bubble wrap, the Doctor discovers someone had weaponised the material, intending for it to be used upon Kerblam's customers.

Charlie quickly admits to being the culprit, explaining that Kira's death was not part of his plans. He reveals his motive was to prevent rampant automation making human workforces redundant. Gaining access to the company, Charlie used the missing staff as test subjects for his weaponised bubble wrap. He intended to use it upon the company's customers, knowing blame for the sudden deaths would be placed upon automation and a lack of human diligence. Realising the company's AI killed Kira to make Charlie understand the severity of his actions, the Doctor reprograms the TeamMates to deliver to themselves and pop the wrap. While the others leave, Charlie remains and perishes in the floor's destruction. In the wake of the incident, Maddox and Slade undertake to rebuild Kerblam with a mostly human workforce.


Towards the end of the episode, the Doctor uses her "Venusian Aikido" technique to paralyze Slade, which she had previously used to paralyze Epzo in "The Ghost Monument". Venusian Aikido was also used by the Third Doctor and Twelfth Doctor.[1]

Later on, the Doctor says "Oh, talking of wasps, did I ever tell you about me and Agatha Christie?" alluding to the episode "The Unicorn and the Wasp", in which the Tenth Doctor meets the author in circumstances involving a Vespiform, an alien that resembles a giant wasp.[2]


Work on the exterior and interior scenes of "Kerblam!" were conducted in the UK, and overseen by Australian director Jennifer Perrott, who helped with production of the fifth episode "The Tsuranga Conundrum".[3]

Broadcast and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Rotten Tomatoes (Average Score)7.62[4]
Rotten Tomatoes (Tomatometer)90%[4]
Review scores
Daily Mirror[5]
New York Magazine[7]
Radio Times[8]
The A.V. ClubB+[9]
The Telegraph[10]
The Independent[11]
TV Fanatic[12]


Prior to the episode being broadcast, a preview of its opening scenes was shown during the Children in Need telethon on 16 November 2018.[13]


"Kerblam!" was watched by 5.93 million viewers overnight, a share of 28.5% of the total United Kingdom TV audience, making it the fourth-highest overnight viewership for the night and the tenth-highest overnight viewership for the week on overnights across all UK channels.[14] It received an official total of 7.46 million viewers across all UK channels, making it the ninth most watched programme of the week, and had an Audience Appreciation Index score of 81.[15]

Critical reception[edit]

Rotten Tomatoes gave the episode an approval rating of 90%, based on 30 critics, and an average score of 7.62/10. The critical consensus states "Adorable automatons, educational undertones, and an everyday object turned horrifying monster make 'Kerblam!' a fun, fear-inducing callback to earlier iterations of Doctor Who."[4]

Several reviewers suggest that the design of the fictional Kerblam company satirises both the retailer and online shopping.[16][17][18][19]

In print[edit]

AuthorPete McTighe
SeriesDoctor Who book:
Target novelisations
PublisherBBC Books
Publication date
13 July 2023

A Target Novelisation of this story, written by Pete McTighe, was announced on 19 January 2023, to be released in July.[20]


  1. ^ Joest, Mick (19 November 2018). "3 Ways Doctor Who's "Kerblam!" Referenced 4 Previous Doctors". Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  2. ^ "There were some brilliant Matt Smith and David Tennant callbacks in Doctor Who episode Kerblam!". Radio Times.
  3. ^ Hearn, Marcus (December 2018). "Episode previews – The Tsuranga Conundrum". Doctor Who Magazine (531): 26.
  4. ^ a b c "Doctor Who – Season 11, Episode 7". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  5. ^ Jackson, Daniel (18 November 2018). "Doctor Who Kerblam! review: A twisting conspiracy that also brings some fun". Daily Mirror.
  6. ^ "Doctor Who episode 7 review: Kerblam! doesn't pack a punch in middling episode". 18 November 2018.
  7. ^ Ruediger, Ross (19 November 2018). "Doctor Who Recap: Amazon Crime".
  8. ^ "Doctor Who Kerblam! review: this is a prime delivery, customer satisfaction guaranteed".
  9. ^ Siede, Caroline (19 November 2018). "Doctor Who's rollicking critique of Amazon delivers". TV Club. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  10. ^ Hogan, Michael (18 November 2018). "Doctor Who: Kerblam! recap: Lee Mack and Julie Hesmondhalgh guest star as the show takes a swipe at Amazon and Asos". The Telegraph.
  11. ^ "'Kerblam!' is Doctor Who at its finely-teased best". Reviews. The Independent. 3 January 2019.
  12. ^ "Doctor Who Season 11 Episode 7 Review: Kerblam!". 19 November 2018.
  13. ^ "Kerblam: The Sneak Peek!". Digital Spy. 16 November 2018. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  14. ^ Hilton, Marcus (19 November 2018). "Kerblam! – Overnight Viewing Figures". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  15. ^ Marcus (26 November 2018). "Kerblam! – Official Ratings". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  16. ^ Hogan, Michael (18 November 2018). "Doctor Who: Kerblam! recap: Lee Mack and Julie Hesmondhalgh guest star as the show takes a swipe at Amazon and Asos". The Telegraph. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  17. ^ Siede, Caroline (19 November 2018). "Doctor Who's rollicking critique of Amazon delivers". The AV Club. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  18. ^ Whitbrook, James (19 November 2018). "Doctor Who's Differing Approaches Find a Shared Fear in the Future of Amazon". io9. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  19. ^ Mulkern, Patrick. "Doctor Who Kerblam! review: this is a prime delivery, customer satisfaction guaranteed". Radio Times. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  20. ^ Cormack, Morgan. "Doctor Who Target books add 5 new novelisations for 2023". Retrieved 20 January 2023.

External links[edit]